Pompey Academy preparation aided by technology
Pompey Academy strength and conditioning coach Ben Spong has lifted the lid on what goes on behind the scenes to get the Blues' youngsters physically ready for a match day.
And the 25-year-old joked the club have the equipment to point out who is slacking in training – if any of the players decide to take it easy.
The workload laid out by Spong, though, demands an attention to detail that encompasses a wide range of issues from training intensity to diet and nutrition.
And with the developments in technology now open to them, Mikey Harris’ under-18s side are able to stagger their weekly schedule to be at optimum performance levels on a Saturday.
Spong said: ‘Each player has their own individual heart-rate monitor they wear for every football session.
‘And the information from that is fed back to me live so I can see who is training and who is slacking!
‘We can also tell what percentage of their maximum heart-rate they are hitting.
‘If you assume a game day is 100 per cent then you are trying to then recreate maybe 80 per cent on a Tuesday and less on a Friday, the day before a game.
‘We try to stagger it so the training load is managed, rather than just going hell for leather every day.’
With an onus on the players to inform Spong of any tiredness or injuries, physical preparation continues with an eye on both hydration and nutrition.
Spong said: ‘Another thing I do every morning is a hydration test – that’s a urine test to make sure they have been recovering from games.
‘Every player is also given guidelines on diet and nutrition.
‘We have two really good chefs at the training ground to ensure the boys are getting plenty of high-protein foods and fruit and vegetables.
‘It’s something I follow up and make sure they are putting the right stuff in their bodies while they are at work.
‘You can’t control what happens at home but we put real emphasis on them being proactive and understanding what they need to perform at the levels we require.
‘I like to think we are pretty open and flexible with the diet – education is the most important thing.
‘If the boys go out for a meal with friends and everyone is having pizza, they are then considering what they are going to do.
‘If they eat the pizza, what can they do afterwards?
‘Maybe it’s a water on the side instead of a coke as well.
‘These guys are all athletes so it’s down to them what fuel they put in their bodies, they have to be mindful of that. I don’t want to dictate to them.’
Pompey Academy are back in Merit League action this Saturday when they travel to Cheltenham Town (11am).
– JEFF MARSHMAN